Now, it is not uncommon for me to straight up approach a stranger. It doesn’t surprise my husband in the least, who keeps pushing the trolley down towards the freezer aisle.
“Are you alright?” I ask the man, gently resting my hand on his wrist. In the cart was supplements and margarine.
“Yes…I just don’t what I’m looking for”.
He looks so lost that it breaks my heart. I wish him luck with his shop, and continue on my way.
As I near the freezer aisle, I notice a sample table with strawberry tarts and whipped cream. I get the slice of tart, and seek out the man, who was now staring blankly at the shelves with napkins and other paper products.
As I approach him, I am stricken with a splash of panic. Who am I to just walk up to strangers and touch them, ask after them and then bring them dessert, just because I sense sadness or loneliness in them?
But I push on, and offer the man the tart, who takes it, and holds it with both hands and takes a long look at it. I put my hand on his arm and gave it a gentle stroke. He smiled warmly at me, and I left him to his tart in the paper aisle.
I can’t resist reaching out like this sometimes. You can count on me to compliment a stranger’s outfit, offer to take a family photo for other holidaymakers, crack a joke in the hospital waiting room, airport lounge, or in any kind of queuing situation. I believe that you have the ability to change people’s day, and possibly their lives, with a tiny gesture. This is the general story in “Amelie“, a young woman butting her nose into the lives of others, to try to brighten potential dark moods in the drudge of day-to-day existence. Is that so wrong? Is that weird? I ask this of my husband, who sort of shrugs indecisively.
I don’t know. Maybe it is a bit strange, a bit risky. Sometimes I’ll offer to take someone’s photo and they look at me with disdain or mistrust. Like I’m only pretending to help so I can run away with your shit. I just want you to have a nice picture of your family on holiday. Something frame-able. I’ll keep on doing it because it’s in me to do it. It’s worth the danger of offending someone, or being rejected. To me, there’s nothing more dangerous than loneliness, and sometimes you just need to be reminded that you are a part of a giant cosmic web, and that you belong. And I’ve only come by to say that I see you, I acknowledge you, I’d like to help you, and most importantly, that you are not alone.
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